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Finance Minister Intensifies Focus On Banking Issues In Northern Ireland
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FINANCE Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has today (4 September) begun a series of meetings with Ministers and senior bank executives intended to intensify the focus on addressing the challenges facing the Northern Ireland financial sector. 

Speaking after a meeting with Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan TD, the Minister said: “I want to put a renewed focus on access to finance and banking issues. Too many businesses are still having difficulties in accessing finance. This is restricting their ability to access working capital or the finance needed to exploit new business opportunities and jeopardising economic recovery in Northern Ireland. 

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA

“That is why I wanted to take this early opportunity to meet with Minister Noonan to discuss the approach being taken to address the problems in the Irish banks and how this is being applied to their operations here in Northern Ireland.”

More broadly the Minister said: “The UK Government recognised in its recent Economic Pact with the Executive that a tailored regional response to our banking issues is required. That has been my Department’s position for some time now and I reiterated that in my recent evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee inquiry on this.

 “It is absolutely vital that we maintain the momentum on this important work

“That is why I will be following up on this with meetings in Whitehall next week where I will be seeking more detail from Ministers there, and the Secretary of State in particular, on how the Government intends delivering on its commitments. 

“I will also be meeting with the Chief Executive of the British Banker’s Association to discuss what more the banks can do to improve access to finance locally. 

“Looking further forward I want to engage as widely as possible on this and will also be meeting with NAMA and the Irish Bank Officials’ Association in the coming weeks,”  added Minister Hamilton.